Monday, April 4, 2016

2 Myths My 4th Graders Busted About AAU

Hello Everyone!

I am coaching the 4th Grade Akron Bobcats this Spring and as much as I hope I am teaching my players skills and lessons that will make them better basketball players on the court and better people off the court I have quickly realized that my players are also teaching me lessons and improving my skill set as a coach and as a person.

They’ve already busted 2 myths that I long held about AAU/Travel Basketball…
Sports should be fun and provide opportunities to learn and grow (both on and off the court)!
Myth #1 Playing AAU/Travel diminishes the desire to win because “there’s always another game” 

I have long been under the assumption that playing multiple tournament games on the weekends made athletes less competitive because they know there will be another game in the very near future. In one hour, my 4th Graders quickly put that assumption to rest as I witnessed the devastated looks on their faces after we lost a game.

They absolutely wanted to win every single game and they were heartbroken from losing. Their hunger and competitiveness to win was immense. To the point where I became genuinely concerned about their ability to bounce back (one of many life lessons they are learning).
They wanted to do a "no-smile" selfie after a loss.

I used to think that AAU/Travel hurt an athlete’s competitive drive, but now I believe it can actually help strengthen a passionate player’s hunger and competitiveness to win. Competing may in fact be a skill, and like any skill, the more it is practiced and trained the more improvements that can be made. AAU/Travel gives athletes more practice at competing and more exposure to game-environments that are hard to match in a practice setting.

Myth #2 Players don’t improve their skills because they are busy playing games and not developing skills 

I can only speak from my experience with the Akron Bobcats, so this may not be true with all programs, but the 4th Grade Bobcats train as a team twice a week in intentional, skill-oriented practices that focus on development. The purposeful practices we go through are designed to teach them skills, to learn how to use them, and to compete with them. (Learn more about the TLC method here.) With games on the weekends, there is quick feedback on whether what we are trying to develop in them is transferring and what other areas need to be addressed.

Win or lose I am proud of these guys!
Additionally, the life lessons and real-world situations they are exposed to in the tournaments is even greater than what I had anticipated. One game alone has had more learning points and character developing moments than I ever could have imagined.

I wonder what other myths and long-held beliefs I will question thanks to my 4th Graders?

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart

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